Release Date: July 26, 2019
Catalog #: RR8015
Format: Digital & Physical
21st Century
Orchestral
Orchestra
Violin
Wind Ensemble

For the Peace of Cities

WORKS FOR ORCHESTRA

Philip Koplow composer
Karel Husa composer
Krzysztof Penderecki composer
Bohuslav Martinů composer

“With the arts we can keep faith with our ancestors, speak for justice, and even address the most tragic and painful issues. If you are hurt and angry don’t use violence — write a poem or a song. Use your feelings to create something.” These words by late composer Philip Koplow (1943-2018) perfectly encapsulate both his life mission as a composer and the mission of FOR THE PEACE OF CITIES. Released posthumously, this collection features Koplow’s masterpieces for orchestra as well as three 20th-century works that commemorate the lives lost in war tragedies.

Koplow’s two pieces on the album, For the Peace of Cities and How Sweet the Sound, were both written from a place of desire to bring hope and healing into a violence-torn world. The title track, inspired by the Dayton Accord in Koplow’s home state, commemorates the lives brutally lost in Bosnian War at the end of the 20th Century. How Sweet the Sound, originally written for solo cello, is inspired by the tune “Amazing Grace” — a tune which has brought comfort and hope to generations of people in times of pain. The piece is filled with variations on the old hymn — as Koplow stated, “each variation is in a new key, implying that God’s love and inspiration is available to all people in all times.”

The music of Philip Koplow is complemented by three similarly-minded composers: Karel Husa, Krzysztof Penderecki, and Bohuslav Martinů. Each of these composers’ three pieces on the album honor the lives lost in three wartime tragedies: Husa’s Music for Prague 1968 which retold the story of the Soviet Union crushing the Prague Spring reform movement in Husa’s homeland; Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima which Penderecki dedicated to the Japanese victims after hearing the piece live and being moved by the emotional charge of the performance; and Martinů’s Memorial to Lidice honors the victims of the massacre in Lidice, Czechoslovakia in 1942.

FOR THE PEACE OF CITIES, through each deeply moving orchestral work, gives honor to two deserving parties: the victims commemorated in each piece, and the late Philip Koplow, who devoted his musical life to standing up for social justice and creating a better world for those to come.

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Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 For the Peace of Cities Philip Koplow Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra | Paul Nadler, conductor; Jorja Fleezanis, violin; James Braid, violin 13:18
02 How Sweet the Sound Philip Koplow Hamilton-Fairfield Symphony Orchestra | Paul John Stanbery, conductor 9:53
03 Music for Prague 1968 (Version for Wind Band): I. Introduction & Fanfare Karel Husa Rutgers Wind Ensemble | William Berz, conductor 6:07
04 Music for Prague 1968 (Version for Wind Band): II. Aria Karel Husa Rutgers Wind Ensemble | William Berz, conductor 4:48
05 Music for Prague 1968 (Version for Wind Band): III. Interlude Karel Husa Rutgers Wind Ensemble | William Berz, conductor 4:34
06 Music for Prague 1968 (Version for Wind Band): IV. Toccata & Chorale Karel Husa Rutgers Wind Ensemble | William Berz, conductor 7:52
07 Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima Krzysztof Penderecki Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra | Antoni Wit, conductor 9:00
08 Památník Lidicím, H. 296 Bohuslav Martinů Philadelphia Orchestra | Christoph Eschenbach, conductor 12:01

In loving memory of Philip Koplow (1943 – 2018)

For The Peace of Cities
Recorded January 10, 1999 at Memorial Hall in Cincinnati OH

How Sweet the Sound
World premiere, recorded November 18, 2001 at St. Julie Billiart Church in Hamilton OH during the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Hamilton-Fairfield Symphony Orchestra. The piece was dedicated to the living memory of a great friend and supporter of Koplow’s, Dr. Edward Kezur

Music for Prague 1968
Recorded March 28, 2008 in the Nicholas Music Center of Rutgers NJ
Producer Joe H. Brashier
Engineer Mark J. Morette
Editor William Berz
Editing and Mastering Engineer David St. Onge
Courtesy of Naxos of America, Inc.

Threnody To the Victims of Hiroshima
Recorded October 27, 1998 at the Grzegorz Fitelberg Concert Hall in Katowice, Poland
Producer and Engineer Beata Jankowska
Publishers Schott & Co.
Courtesy of Naxos of America, Inc.

Pamatnik Lidicim (Memorial to Lidice) H. 296
Recorded live May 2005 at Verizon Hall in Philadelphia PA
Executive Producer Kevin Kleinmann
Recording Producer Martha de Francisco
Balance Engineer and Editing Everett Porter (Polyhymnia –
Baarn, The Netherlands)
Recording Engineer Charles Gagnon
Publishers Edwin F. Kalmus & Co.
Courtesy of Naxos of America, Inc.

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Director Brandon MacNeil

VP, Audio Production Jeff LeRoy
Audio Director Lucas Paquette
Mastering Shaun Michaud

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Patrick Niland, Sara Warner

Artist Information

Philip Koplow

Composer

Philip Koplow’s first association with professional Cincinnati musicians was the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra’s performance of his tone poem Generations in 1980. Koplow has had fine orchestral success — his music has been performed by the Cleveland Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Cincinnati Pops, the National Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Wyoming Symphony, the Columbus Symphony, the West Chester Symphony, the Blue Ash Symphony, the Northern Kentucky Symphony, and has been recorded by the Silesian Philharmonic in Poland.

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Notes

Koplow’s words on the genesis of his work For the Peace of Cities: “Years ago (CCO concertmaster) Jim Braid asked me for a work for violin and orchestra…I then got in touch with Paul Nadler in Ft. Myers FL, to see if he would like to get into the act.” Nadler suggested a work for two violin solo parts, bringing Minnesota Orchestra’s concertmaster Jorja Fleezanis into the project. “The piece was for the CCO’s 25th anniversary season, and this piece reunites the founding and the original principal violinists…the CCO’s founding conductor joined the reunion too.

“Do you know the section (Dies Irae) of the Britten War Requiem that sets Wilfred Owen’s poem about a battle? ‘Out there we walked quite friendly up to death / Sat down and eaten with him cool and bland.’ It ends with a description of the soldier of the future: ‘We laughed, knowing that better men would come, and greater wars, / When each proud soldier brags, he wars on Death — for Life; not men — for flags.’ To me this is a description of the true function, now and in the future, of the military — as peacekeepers (I know this is a tricky concept). A good peacekeeping example is the American mission in Bosnia. I was also moved that we are so close to the site of the Accord that brought an end to that war: Dayton OH. So this music is offered as a gesture of empathy to the peoples of the Yugoslavia, who suffered ridiculous and deadly war at the end of the century.

“About the music. It makes some use of actual Bosnian folk material, including Kad ja podjoh na Bembasu which has been called the national anthem of Sarajevo. The first section in For the Peace of Cities uses motives derived from this melody and also one nearly complete quote. The music shows contrasting moods, emotions, tempi, and energies. A village dance, suited for out-of-doors celebrations, is given a freely rendered hearing, not an exact quote. The section ends simply with a third Bosnian folk tune quoted rather literally — four times a solo instrument is answered by pairs of players. After this simple — naive — moment, the second section begins. It is energetic and brutally violent. The violin soloists seem assailed by a hostile environment. The third section recalls earlier material including a full statement of Kad ja podjoh na Bembasu. At the end the village dance returns, greatly extended, and getting faster and faster and more intense. But it’s an affirmation of life and hope. In all I am trying to present my music and ideas with a strong Bosnian flavoring.

“I found it moving that one way that Bosnians ‘fought’ and remained human was to maintain their artistic institutions. At great personal cost they affirmed the best in human culture.” — Philip Koplow

“Once it was considered mandatory to commission new music for all state occasions, for civic and religious events, for personal celebrations and memorials. A composer like Franz Joseph Haydn was considered a skilled craftsman, like a silversmith, whose work was required to add importance, meaning, and beauty to an event.

“For our 50th anniversary, the Hamilton-Fairfield Symphony wanted to commission a new work — certainly a fitting act for a mature musical organization. We also wanted to thank the late Dr. Edward Kezur for his friendship and support of the orchestra. This music is dedicated to him.” — Philip Koplow

Composer Philip Koplow (1943-2018) arrived in the greater Cincinnati area in 1976 when he was appointed composer-in-residence at Northern Kentucky University. Koplow, a Cleveland native, received his musical education at Kent State University and earned a doctorate at the Cleveland Institute of Music under the eminent American composer Donald Erb. He considered himself a survivor of both childhood learning disabilities and the school shootings at Kent State University in May of 1970. His struggles to learn to read and his experiences during the turbulent Vietnam War era left him with a driving need to communicate and a belief that music — new music — was an important way to affirm humane and “classical” values:

“With the arts we can keep faith with our ancestors, speak for justice, and even address the most tragic and painful issues. If you are hurt and angry don’t use violence — write a poem or a song. Use your feelings to create something.”

The Martin Luther King Jr. assassination took place on the composer’s birthday, and became a viola sonata and later a work for viola and orchestra. Reactions to the Vietnam War became a string quartet, and the shootings at Kent State a choral work. The 1952 Moscow executions of six Jewish poets became The Night of the Murdered Poets commemorative concert (with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, 1983) which saw the premieres of works by Koplow, Bonia Shur, and Jonathan Kramer — all settings for chorus and orchestra — of poems by the martyred poets. For the 25th anniversary of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, the composer created a work based on Bosnian folk music for two violins and orchestra: For the Peace of Cities (… Sarajevo .. Dayton ..). This music was also a hymn of thanksgiving for the Dayton Peace Accords which ended the war in Bosnia.

How Sweet The Sound… exists in an earlier version for solo cello (1985). The first half of this work was composed in a surgery waiting room while Koplow’s wife, Cordelia, was having minor surgery. The same week the brilliant young cellist, Gita Roche, had come to live with the Koplow family for the summer. Roche had been the principal cellist of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra during the “Murdered Poets” concerts, and held the fourth chair in the Baltimore Symphony cello section. This earlier version, Variations On A Hymn Tune, has been in the repertoire of several cellists and recorded by Jan Slavik on the Master Musicians Collective label.

The orchestral version “retains the perspective of a solo cello piece, so it is conceived differently than if I had set out to write an orchestral piece,” according to the composer. Like the solo version, the orchestral work takes full advantage of available “colors.” It is underpinned with much delicate and ringing percussion. The work opens and closes with a long sustained high note (“a”), which forms a mysterious unity between the beginning and the ending. From the first high note a descending melody floats down through the strings. This introductory melody returns several times, forming interludes. A series of variations on the great old hymn Amazing Grace follows. Each variation is in a new key, implying that God’s love and inspiration is available to all people in all times.

Music for Prague 1968, written by Czech composer Karel Husa, was composed after the Soviet Union crushed the Prague Spring reform movement in Czechoslovakia. While at his cabin in America, Husa listened to reports on the events in his homeland as they were broadcast on the radio. Deeply moved, he composed this piece, which was commissioned by Ithaca College and premiered in Washington, DC at the Music Educators National Conference.

Filled with allusions and symbols, the piece references a recognizable theme from the 15th-century Hussite song Ye Warriors of God and his Law, a piece that sings of resistance and hope. Music for Prague 1968 recreates the sounds in Prague during the attacks with the use of bells, trombones that imitate air raid sirens, and oboes imitating sections of Morse code. The piccolo solo represents bird calls that symbolize freedom, which the composer wrote “the city of Prague has seen only for moments during its thousand years of existence.”

Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima was composed in 1960 by Krzysztof Penderecki and dedicated to the residents of Hiroshima killed and injured by the first-ever wartime use of an atomic weapon.

Penderecki’s stated intent with Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima was to “develop a new musical language.” When he heard an actual performance of his piece, he stated “I was struck by the emotional charge of the work… I searched for associations and, in the end, I decided to dedicate it to the Hiroshima victims.”

According to reviewer Paul Griffiths, the sonoric manipulation and counterpoint makes the listener “uneasy” as the piece “refer[s] to an event too terrible for string orchestral screams.” Threnody’s sustained tone clusters and various extended techniques are matched by a score full of thick black lines, about as eerie to the eye as the resulting sound is to the ear.

Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů was one of the first artists to memorialize the massacre in Lidice, Czechoslovakia in 1942, with his Memorial to Lidice. On a night in late June 1942, Nazi troops swept through the village of Lidice, killing the men and deporting the women and children. The buildings were burned to the ground and the entire town was leveled. The massacre was intended to avenge the plot to assassinate the S.S. leader Reinhard Heydrich.

From its gripping opening measures, Memorial to Lidice creates an “inner world” with the layering of two dissonant keys, C minor and C-sharp minor. Throughout the work’s development, Martinů quotes a hymn to St. Wenceslaus, the patron of Bohemia. The piece reaches its height of intensity in the middle of the piece before the initial adagio returns, bringing a hopeful quotation: the “victory call” from the opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The piece then closes in C major.*

(*Notes adapted from “Memorial to Lidice by Bohuslav Martinů”: Hilmar-Jezek, Kytka. “Memorial to Lidice by Bohuslav Martinů – Remembering the Tragedy.” Tres Bohemes | A Place for Everything Czech, 29 May 2018, www.tresbohemes.com/2018/06/memorial-to-lidice-by-bohuslav-martinu/)